Psychotherapy is a type of treatment which involves many different techniques and in part requires to be combined with medical drugs, like depressants. Its goals are to find the reason for depression, to overcome it, and improve communication skills. There are various types of psychotherapy: Individual, group, marital, and family. Other additional types include psychodynamic, interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral, and dialectical behavioral therapies. This paper discusses interpersonal therapy, its history, methods of treatment, characteristics, and other features which make the therapy procedure famous and worth studying.
Interpersonal psychotherapy is based on evidence and has a limited duration (12-16 weeks). It has three phases of treatment: the beginning, middle, and end. In the first phase, the therapist has to find out as more information as possible and reasons for depression. In the middle stage, the therapist uses different strategies, which help to solve potential problems and make the patient feel better. There are many issues that can cause depression: complicated bereavement, a lack of desire to accept a new role, or problems related to interpersonal misunderstanding. The last phase is decisive because the therapist has to do the best to help the patient overcome their obstacles. For instance, if there is complicated bereavement, the psychotherapist should help the client to realize that life is not over and that there are many things that are worth living for, and there is no place for such thing in sadness. Patients have to release themselves from the burden of depression. The same things occur when there is role transition or interpersonal deficits. A Psychotherapists’ goal is to make people free from their negative thoughts and memories which make them feel upset and out of touch with life.
History and Development
It is worth saying that interpersonal psychotherapy is a relatively new type of treatment. It began in the context of research, related to the close examination of the literature that shows different ways in which interpersonal relationships affect mood and cause different difficulties (Law, 2011). Interpersonal psychotherapy was started in 1970’s, when Klerman, Weissman, and their colleagues showed the efficiency of IPT (potentiation therapy) in treating mood disorders in experimental probation. Their project involved 150 female out-patients and lasted eight months. It proved that interpersonal therapy was effective and capable to help people to become free from their depression. After Klerman and Weissman’s study, many other specialists became interested in IPT and maintained their experiments. DiMascio, Elkin, Shea, and Anderson were some of them. Elkin’s test was the biggest psychotherapy trial which was conducted in 1985 and involved 250 patients. It included different types of psychotherapy, and IPT had one of the most important roles.
Unfortunately, Klerman, who was the creator of that therapy, died early in its history, and IPT was not widespread for many years. Only in 2000s psychotherapists started using it again. Nowadays, IPT is quite famous and widely used for treating all the problems related to mood disorders and social functioning. It has become international; however, yet not all services provide it as a usual patient care.
Methods of Treatment
Interpersonal psychotherapy is a simple way to help people to reduce depression and improve social functioning. There are four areas of focus in IPT: interpersonal role quarrel, interpersonal role passing, grief, and interpersonal deficits. Judging from these areas, a specialist has to find the best strategy to help the patient.
In the case of interpersonal role transition, it is extremely important to determine the previous role and the problem that has appeared because of transition. For instance, when someone loses the job that helped make enough money to live, it is obvious that one will get depressed. It would be highly difficult for that person to get used to a new role as unemployed. Psychotherapist’s method of treatment in this case, will be to help the patient to forget about his previous position and become confident again. The patient will have to overcome depression and find another job, and the specialist’s help will be needed. Additionally, it is worth saying, that some changes can be positive, like the birth of child or promotions, but people tend to get used to something, so even good-role transitions may cause mood disorders.
Interpersonal role dispute occurs when there is some problem which becomes more obvious due to different changes. When there is tension in a marriage, it will necessarily increase, when one of the partners loses the job or creates different problems. It is considerable for therapist to examine not only the changes but also previous tension and all the issues that the change of status has caused. Despite the fact that IPT is an individual therapy type, in such cases, it would be more effective to treat partners together to give them an opportunity to understand each other and to find the causes of their mood disorders.
Grief is one of the most widespread causes of depression. The method for treating the case is to overlook the whole aspects related to the patient’s sorrow and to convince them that the reason of their grief is not only a situation but also a case of mood disorder that has happened as a result grief. The psychotherapist has to help examine all the patient’s memories and to help them realize and become free from their burden. However, it is important to become completely free from previous memories and grief, rather than just replace them with something new, like new relationships, family, and friends.
And the last part of interpersonal sensitivity is characterized by the lack of social functioning and deep offence. Patients with the problem are different from others because they have a history of interpersonal difficulties that lasted a long time. It is necessary for those people to overcome their past and start a relationship. The goal of the therapy is to improve social functioning, so it is aimed at finding the main problem that interferes with people’s desire to be happy and to fight with their depression.
It is obvious that interpersonal psychotherapy helps to solve problems which are only related to mood disorders and other issues that can be solved by speaking with patient and analyzing their memories, feelings, and events. Moreover, IPT is still a new kind of treatment among other therapies, making it difficult in defining areas and methods of treatment. IPT has shown itself as an effective type of psychotherapy, but it still needs improvement. Also, it is cannot be used to solve such serious problems as the split personality, schizophrenia, and other disorders that can be treated only with the help of clinical intervention.
IPT is highly successful not only in treating mood disorders but also for other conditions (Markowitz & Weissman, 2004). It might be helpful in cases of social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorders, and even eating disorders. Furthermore, a great advantage of IPT is that it can be used not only by professional psychotherapists but also by the less trained because it only requires the capability to understand other people and to be attentive to their problems.
In conclusion, interpersonal psychotherapy is an extremely interesting type of treatment. It has three phases, and each of them has its features and importance. Also, there are four potential areas of focus (IP role transition, IP role dispute, grief, and IP deficits), which can cause depression and mood disorders; psychotherapists choose their methods of treatment in consideration to the for methods. IPT is not the medicine for all mood disorders, because it has limitations, but it has different features that make it famous and worth using.